Canada "Ready to Help" in Turkey-Syria, but Are We Ready for Our Own?

Posted by Karl Lundgren on


This post is regarding the Global News article:
"Turkey earthquake: More than 2,600 dead as Trudeau says Canada ‘stands ready’ to help"
By Ghaith Alsayed, Suzan Fraser, Maan Alhmidi and Sharif Hassan
via The Associated Press


The world was rocked this week by another major earthquake, this time in Turkey-Syria. This tragic quake has killed thousands and left thousands more injured and homeless. Prime Minister Trudeau has expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people in Turkey-Syria impacted by this terrible disaster and has expressed our countries willingness to provide aid and help in any way possible. If you want to help, please consider donating to relief efforts through the Canadian Red Cross.

But this begs the question, “how ready are we for one of our own?”. It is a well known fact that the Cascadia Subduction Zone, off the BC Coast, is a hot-bed for activity and major earthquakes. The last Megathrust Cascadia earthquake occurred in 1700 and we are overdue for another. That quake had an estimated magnitude between 8.7-9.2. If one of similar ferocity were to strike the region it would be potentially the strongest of the 21st-century. A period, thus far, already plagued with large quakes, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami, the 2011 Tohoku Japan earthquake/tsunami, and this most recent Turkey-Syria earthquake, which stands tied for 5th largest quake by magnitude so far this century. In fact, there have been twelve 21st Century quakes measuring over 7.0 magniture so far, and we aren’t even at the quarter-century mark yet. For comparison, there were twenty-four in the entire previous century of recorded history.

Lists of 21st-century earthquakes

The 21st Century brings with it the added horror of being more socially connected giving us an expanded window to the world. Since the cataclysmic seismic events in Turkey-Syria earlier this week, the world has watched in dread as images and videos have come pouring out of the affected areas. We no longer have the option of burying our head in the sand and pretending this isn’t happening abroad or that it could happen here at home. We are bearing witness to these disasters seemingly first-hand. Thousands of deaths and injuries, incredible damage to buildings and infrastructure, and countless people and families displaced. Tragically, most deaths attributed to major earthquakes are not a result of the quake itself, but rather the aftermath. After the shaking stops, you are left to fend for yourself. It is vital to ensure you have rudimentary supplies on hand, a household emergency plan, and the ability to scrounge what you need to self-sustain yourself for, what could be, weeks before infrastructure is able to be re-established. The unfortunate truth for us here in BC is that we and the governing bodies that represent us are not prepared for a major earthquake.

So what can we do to get better prepared?


A kit is not a safety blanket you just purchase to make yourself feel better, it is an important investment in your household’s safety and preparedness. Not all emergency kits are created equal, and we highly recommend using the Province of BC and Government of Canada resources when building or buying a kit. We are also pleased to offer Earthquake Kits that developed to meet the government requirements for emergency preparedness. Visit our Gov BC Earthquake Kit product page to view the contents of our kits and feel free to use this as a guideline for assembling your own. What’s important to us is not that you buy a kit from us, but that every household have a kit at the ready in case something unexpected should occur.


The Province of BC and the Federal Government have made huge strides in this area in recent years implementing an Emergency Notifications network through mobile carriers and testing it to great success levels. This can provide seconds to even minutes of advanced notice prior to an earthquake being felt in any given location. However, a network of this complexity relies on strategically positioned censors along the coastline. We need to continue expanding this network of sensors and make sure that existing censors are being properly monitored and maintained.

We also need to expand from mobile phone notifications to physical alarms in homes, buildings, and especially schools/daycares.

For more details on how this Early Detection Grid works, please check out the following video by the CBC several years ago.


Know the Hazards

Knowing which hazards you need to plan for is the first step to getting prepared


Build Your Kits

Put together a household emergency kit and grab-and-go bag.


Make Your Plan

Plan how you will respond to a disaster to stay focused and safe.


Guides and Resources

Preparedness guides and community resources are available to help get ready for emergencies.


Evacuation and Recovery Resources

Learn what happens in evacuations, what financial assistance you might be eligible for and other recovery resources.


Education Programs and Toolkits

Create awareness about preparing for emergencies with Prepared BC's easy-to-use education programs and social media toolkits.

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